three missed (friendship) connections
there are a lot of things I remember about you, except your names.
1 ) The Girl Who Was Friends with the Spy Kids (2002).
There are a lot of things I remember about you, except the most crucial: your name. We met at your neighbor’s high school graduation party.
I thought you were one of the high schoolers at first, since you looked and sounded like a model, standing at least 5'9 in heels with your hair beautifully styled and a low, sultry voice that carried across the room.
But no, you were 12 years old, just like me. And you were on a first name basis with the Spy Kids.
Your dad was rich as fuck, some big shot attorney with enough money to turn your backyard into a traditional Japanese garden, complete with a giant koi pond.
Your bedroom was a miniature version of Paris, filled with furniture and clothes from some fancy shop called Oilily that I had never heard of but immediately agreed was fabulous, based on how impressive your room was.
You were so damn cool, but your handwriting was terrible. When I got home and pulled out the post it note that you had given me with your email address written on it, I couldn’t decipher a single letter, so I was never able to get back in touch with you.
I hope you’re doing well and living a fabulous life. You’ll probably never read this, but in case you do, please hit me up. I’d love to know if you’re still friends with those kids.
2 ) The Girl on My Flight from Mumbai to Amsterdam (2002).
Flying from the United States to India (and vice versa) is a marathon of a journey. Though nowadays, there are some nonstop flights that go straight from Chicago to the motherland, in my experience, there have always been multiple layovers of various lengths in cities I have never returned to since.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have face blindness, but I’ve never been great at remembering people’s faces after the first time I meet them if they don’t leave a significant impression on me, so it was lucky that you remembered mine when we ran into each other in the Mumbai airport bathroom, and that we had met at the Banga Mela convention that my Bengali community in St. Louis had hosted a few years back.
Because I was growing up in a small white town in the middle of nowhere, you were the first Indian kid who was my age that I ever really had a chance to connect with, so I feel bad that I remember so little about you; I can’t recall your name, how you looked, where you lived, or even what we talked about, only that it made the long flight to Amsterdam not only bearable, but fun.
Even at that young age, I had an awareness of how special and serendipitous it was to reunite with someone who recognized me thousands of miles away from home in an airport bathroom, of all places. It’s too bad I didn’t have the foresight to write down your email or any other way to contact you after we split ways to get on our separate flights back to the States.
Since I didn’t get the chance to visit India again for seven years and it’s been eleven years since even then, I hope that you at least have had the chance to visit and explore it more often than I have. I hope sometime in the near future I’ll be able to make it over there again and maybe run into you again — with the hope that you’ll recognize me once more.
3 ) Hannah and Matthew (2010).
I think about both of you a lot. Though the details are fuzzy now, I still remember the most important moments of what could have changed everything about my study abroad experience in London back in 2010 during my junior year of college.
Those little experiences don’t seem so important when they’re happening, but without a doubt — within 24 hours to a week, you’ll start regretting it.
We were in line, the three of us, waiting to get into the student fair.
Both of you were English, though I can no longer remember if either of you were from London or from elsewhere. I think your names were Hannah and Matthew, but even that, I’m not sure of. Hannah, I think you might have been from a London suburb. I’m pretty sure I remember you saying you were Jewish. We talked about many little such details in the 45 minutes or so we were waiting in line together.
Before we scattered, we did at least save each other’s numbers in our cell phones. But these were pre-smartphone days and the texts and minutes I could send through my dinky old phone were being paid for by my uncle, who only topped it up with the bare minimum of minutes and texts.
So in the three months I lived in London, I never once got in touch with either of you. Never reached out, never made plans.
Nobody in my course was particularly friendly, and I had little money to spare for going out with the mostly affluent kids who were in the program with me, so I spent most of my time alone — either exploring the city by myself or spending too much time scrolling through Livejournal in my dorm room.
Had I reached out, perhaps things would have been a little different.
Perhaps I would have made two good friends; perhaps I wouldn’t, but my biggest regret is that I didn’t try.
In the months after I returned to the US, I often thought about both of you; whether the two of you had kept in touch, if you ever became close enough to date —of if you ended up not getting along after a second meeting and didn’t even become friends.
Three years after London, when I returned to the UK for my Fulbright, I thought of both of you once again, and I wanted to see if I could pull your phone numbers from my old UK cell phone, but unfortunately, I was unable to, as I had lost the charger.
I hope you both stayed in touch. I’ll never know, of course; but in my head, I like to imagine that you became the best of friends, and maybe something more.